190 years of Mobility as a Service in London

In 1829, George Shillibeer started a new type of coach service in London, the omnibus. This is how the visit starts at the London Transport Museum, with the museum introducing the first "hail-and-ride" service on a fixed transport route in Britain.

The Museum is great for all the family. Kids of all ages can enjoy discovering how public transport has evolved over nearly two centuries.

We noted some similarities with the development of the transport industry and current trends in the automobile industry. 

Starting from a fixed route.

The historic development of public transport has a lot in common with today’s autonomous shuttle projects , most of which begin in specific neighbourhoods with fixed stops. This is a great way to "start small", experiment and eventually scale while delivering an efficient service in a given zones.

Like Shillibeer, we believe that transport solutions should launch on a busy route to deliver a useful service. For example, the "omnibus" started from Paddington to the Bank of England, at the time the country’s busiest coach route.

Shillibeer also introduced a revolutionary ‘pay-as-you-go’ business model, meaning customers no longer had to book and pay in advance. This proved both usability and ability to make revenue.


Let's jump two decades later. A dozen railway stations connected to the City of London (Paddington, Euston, King's Cross, London Bridge...). However, these stations were not connected, nor did they reach into the centre of the city. To solve the problem, the authorities decided to build under the roads, instead of demolishing houses to make way for new railway lines. That's how the world's first underground railway opened in 1863, creating multi-modal railway offers as well as the existing coaches.

MAAS / Mobility-as-a-service offers users information on how to get from A to B whatever the mode of transport. Robo-vehicles will need to be integrated with bikes, the Underground, railways, taxis, hackney cabs, buses and more to build a truly "user-centric" offer.


Electrification took place in 1905 to solve the problem of suffocating steam from the Underground. 

As of today we are facing the same challenge overground. New mobility services are becoming electrified, and more is to come with BEV taxis, robo-vehicles and new fleets of urban electric cars.

Customer experience

Finally, a multi-tiered fare system was introduced so that everybody could use the London Underground (1st, 2nd and 3rd class).

The Tube’s visual identity has remained reasonably consistent over the decades, although the customer experience has improved - , comfortable seating,, "ladies only" sections, fixed bars instead of leather straps…

In fact, by the 1990s, grab handles were even being used to advertise everything from deodorants to Easter eggs.

A particularly interesting booth walked visitors through the evolution from tickets to Oyster cards. Also showing how in the future, face recognition could facilitate entering or leaving stations at peak times.


Mobility-as-a-service suppliers are  coming up with more complete offers combining a better experience and improved sustainability in multi-modal - open ecosystems. Combining IoT, connectivity, security and data protection with a seamless user experience across such a wide variety of platforms is a fantastic challenge.

kilometers.io was created to understand mobility needs and optimize commuting. Thanks to its history, the London Transport Museum can help us to understand similar past challenges as we are building new solutions to reduce congestion and CO2 emissions.